Brain waves of the human type detected in mini-brains grown in a dish



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Cross section of mini-brains developed in the laboratory, each color representing a different type of brain cell.

Muotri Lab / UCTV

Scientists have successfully developed mini-brains that, for the first time, produce brain waves similar to those seen in embryos and prematurity. Researchers at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) have created pea-sized "brains" by growing stem cells in a petri dish and testing their activity and causing them to lose weight. Expression of their genes for 10 months. They hope that the mini-brains will allow them to study the early development of the brain.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell, was conducted by the same research group that has already shown they were able to grow Neanderthal mini-brains in the laboratory. This time, they clung to Homo sapiens, to persuade human stem cells to become brain cells by placing them in a petri dish simulating the environment of early brain development. The 3D mini-brains, called "organoids", then ripen and create cellular networks of connected cells – an important component of the real brains that allows electrical signals to flow.

"We are about to create a model capable of generating the first steps of a sophisticated neural network," said Alysson Muotri, molecular biologist at UCSD and author of the new study, in a press release. The Muotri team has been working with brain organoids for a number of years, slowly seeking to build a brain that will serve as a model for future studies. Currently, their model is about a million times smaller than an adult human brain.

"You can use brain organelles for many things, including understanding normal human neurological development, disease modeling, brain evolution, drug testing, and even to inform artificial intelligence," said Muotri.


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To evaluate the electrical activity of the brains developed in the laboratory, the team stuck electrodes in their culture dish. They found evidence of activity in the mini-brains at two months and steady rhythmic activity at six months.

An automated learning algorithm, formed on a dataset of 567 electrical signal records generated by 39 premature babies aged 6 to 10 months, was then powered by the brain's mini-electrical signals. It successfully predicted how many weeks the petri dish organoids were aged, demonstrating that they can mimic normal and early brain development.

While this does not mean that the brain in a jar and the infant brain are functionally identical, it allows scientists to test brains more advanced than those of previous models and accurately reproduce the human condition. better than animal models can.

Of course, the reconstruction of a brain has ethical implications. One of the most stimulating philosophical scenarios is the "brain in a tank" experiment, which describes a situation in which a brain connected to a supercomputer and receiving electrical signals could still thought it's really alive, even if it exists only as brain … in a tank. It's a bit mad scientist Matrix, if you really think about it.

The study does not fear the potential ethical implications of creating miniature brains and Muotri himself claims that it's up to us to decide the limit. For the moment, you should not worry about the ability of these brains-in-a-dish to reach sensitivity and feel them experienced. Muotri is convinced that there is no evidence of any consciousness whatsoever and the brainwaves that the team has seen may not even have anything to do with the ## 147 ## # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # 39 activity in the real brain.

Originally released at 8:15 am Pacific Time

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